MAFF members will benefit immensely if proposed changes to Public Act 54 and the state Personal Property Tax are passed by the Legislature. Currently, when a collective bargaining agreement expires, Public Act 54 (PA 54) of 2011 freezes all wages and benefits of public employees and places the burden of health care, dental, vision, prescription or other insurance cost increases automatically upon those employees. The wage freeze also applies to step increases. House Bill 5097 (HB 5097) would exempt public employees who are eligible to participate in compulsory bargaining of labor disputes under Public Act 312 from provisions in PA 54 which restrict compensation and benefits after a contract expires and prohibit wage or benefit levels in a new contract from being retroactive. House Speaker Pro-tempore John Walsh is the primary sponsor of this bill, which would benefit police, fire fighters, dispatchers and EMT's alike. Walsh told Michigan Capitol Confidential, a Mackinac Center for Public Policy news service, that legislators did not expect PA 54 to apply to public safety employees covered under Act 312. In fact, police and fire fighters were told by legislators it wouldn't apply to them. Since the law conflicts with language in Act 312 of 1969, Walsh said the Legislature can choose between passing an amendment to the current law or litigation brought by public safety employee unions.
Milford joins MAFF to give them a voice, improve communications
By Jennifer Foley, MAFF Editor
Milford Paid On-Call Fire Fighters voted to join Michigan Association of Fire Fighters (MAFF) March 17 to improve communications between themselves and the township.
"I think the main agenda for us was having a voice at the table and truly trying to establish a joint process on any changes and issues that might arise with the township," said Local Union President Martin Cook, adding that a contract allows them to be proactive rather than reactive. "Overall we view it as a very positive move that we're going to have this interaction through MAFF to straighten out any issues that may be present. My vision for our Local is that we effect a true culture change at the Milford Fire Department. I believe we can build a relationship with the Township where we proactively collaborate on issues effecting the department and municipality."
Milford Fire Department services both Milford Township and the Village of Milford and has 24 Paid On-Call Fire Fighters.
"They weren't organized at all," said MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Ron Palmquist. "They just want to make sure their wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment are all codified into a document that everybody has to live with. Having one collective voice to meet and negotiate with the employer and have an agreement with both sides. I'm not so sure they have a lot of issues with benefits they are currently being provided with other than really getting it down on paper," Palmquist said, adding it is important everyone is treated equally and a contract ensures that.
What would I have done differently?
To our valued friends of MAFF:
Welcome to our inaugural column about financial and insurance matters. We hope to make this interesting and pertinent to those of you in the company. The main focus of these articles will be about saving and retirement; however, we will be happy to tackle any areas in this arena that are of interest or concern to you.
To begin with who we are: Stuart Raider, Peter Mendler and the Raider Dennis Agency have worked with the employees and members of MAFF for over 20 years regarding insurance and financial matters that pertain to their employees. Now here are our credentials:
Stuart Raider – President
Mr. Raider has been helping families prepare for their desired retirement lifestyle for nearly 35 years. He received his B.A. in Finance from Michigan State University and is both a Charter Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU). Mr. Raider has served as President of The Detroit Chapter of The Society of Financial Service Professionals and is also a member of The Financial & Estate Planning Council of Metro Detroit. He has both acted as a lecturer or Author for The Detroit Better Business Bureau, Corporate Magazine, Michigan Association of Police (MAP) and The Michigan Association of Fire Fighters (MAFF) Newsletters. He is also a member of the Legendary Advisors Group and financial consultant to the Michigan Association of Police. He is also the recipient of the Prestigious Huebner Award.
Peter Mendler – Partner
Mr. Mendler has been helping families prepare for their desired retirement lifestyle for 30 years. He is also an Attorney and C.P.A. Mr. Mendler gained valuable tax information and experience, which he shares with his clients every day, from previous employment with General Motors Corporation and the Internal Revenue Service. Pete is an avid runner, enjoys losing at tennis and has four wonderful grandchildren. His goal, as much as possible, is for each client to feel they are his most important client. He is also a member of the Legendary Advisors Group and financial consultant to the Michigan Association of Police. Pete is also the President of the board of a local non-profit organization.
With regard to this column, we interviewed a number of retired fire fighters and asked them what they would have planned differently or done differently, regarding their retirement, if they could go back in time. The responses were mainly in three areas:
Thank you and good luck to all who applied for The 2015 Carl Parsell Scholarship. Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2015-16 school year.
In March and April, the Scholarship Selection Committee begins the selection process which is completed in May. Scholarship recipients will be notified of their status by the end of May. 2015 Carl Parsell Scholarship winners are formally recognized during the 25th Annual Carl Parsell Memorial Golf Outing on June 11, 2015.
Michigan Association of Fire Fighters, Michigan Association of Police and Michigan Association of Public Employees is pleased to announce that we are moving our offices to Troy effective Feb. 1, 2015.
Our NEW address is:
667 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy MI 48083
Phone: (800) 368-1159 or (248) 509-7160Fax: (248) 509-7176
All individual cell phone numbers and email addresses will remain the same.
We are excited about the move and look forward to the change. Please feel free to stop by anytime to visit your new union office .
IAFF issues statement urging fire fighters, paramedics to hold Ebola stand-downs
Excerpted from ohsonline.com
The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) is warning it is "highly likely that more individuals infected with Ebola will seek assistance from emergency response personnel as the disease spreads," and urging fire and EMS personnel to hold a safety stand-down and review all infectious exposure policies, procedures and guidelines.
The AFL-CIO union that represents more than 300,000 full-time firefighters and paramedics in the United States and Canada, has posted a statement which lists 11 minimum elements IAFF says those policies, procedures and guidelines should address.
They include: not returning to the firehouse if there is a potential exposure or the crew thinks they have been affected; developing policies for monitoring and management of EMS personnel potentially exposed to Ebola; fit testing all personnel for N95 respirators and appropriate eye protection; and establishing sick leave policies that are "non-punitive, flexible and consistent with public health guidance."
The policies should ensure fire and EMS personnel exposed to blood, bodily fluid, secretions, or excretions from a patient with a suspected or confirmed Ebola virus immediately:
• Stop working and wash the affected skin surfaces with soap and water and irrigate with a large amount of water or eyewash solution.
• Contact an occupational health supervisor for assessment and access to post-exposure management services.
• Receive medical evaluation and follow-up care as appropriate. Medical evaluations should include fever monitoring twice daily throughout the Ebola incubation period, which is two to 21 days.
Click here for a complete list of guidelines.
MAPO representatives recently joined Gov. Rick Snyder (center) for the formal signing of HB 5097. From left to right are: Matt Kurda, Karoub and Associates, legislative advisor to MAPO, Rep. John Walsh, sponsor of the bill, Police Officers Labor Council Executive Committee Chair Paul Combs, MAPO Secretary/Treasurer and Michigan Association of Fire Fighters Director Fred Timpner, and Mike Sauger, President Warren POA and MAPO Executive Board member.
By Jennifer Foley, MAFF Editor with excerpts from www.michigan.gov
The wait has been long, but Gov. Rick Snyder approved a measure which removes Act 312 eligible public safety employees from earlier legislation restricting their collective bargaining rights. Snyder passed Public Act 322 of 2014, introduced by Rep. John Walsh (R-Livonia); honoring his earlier statements that he would support this change to Public Act (P.A.) 54 of 2011.
"Police officers and firefighters risk their lives daily to protect citizens across our state," Snyder said. "This legislation helps ensure these first responders continue to receive full compensation regardless of the status of their contract."
Under P.A. 54, once a contract expired public employees' wages were frozen, there were no step increases and no longevity - pay increases based on years of service. The law also prevented public employees from receiving retroactive wage or benefit increases greater than those in effect on the expiration date of the previous contract. P.A. 54 took one more swing at public employees by allowing employers to pass on up to 100 percent of health care cost increases once a contract expired.
HB 5097, now P.A. 322, no longer prohibits wage or benefit increases, including step increases, authorized under the expired contract for Act 312 eligible public employees. The law also does not prohibit retroactive application of a wage or benefit increase if the increase is awarded by an arbitration panel to a negotiated contract.
"It allows us to be able to negotiate retroactivity," said MAFF Director Fred Timpner.
Furthermore, when a collective bargaining agreement expires, Act 312 eligible employee costs for health care, dental, vision, prescription or other insurance benefits shall not exceed the employee's share under the Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act. This Act requires the employer to pay no more than 80 percent and the employee to pay 20 percent or more of health care costs or choose a Hard Cap. The Hard Cap for the employer is:
• $5,500 times the number of employees with single coverage, plus
• $11,000 times the number of employees with two person coverage, plus
• $15,000 times the number of employees with family coverage.
The amount necessary to purchase health insurance for employees that exceeds this "cap" must be paid by employees.
P.A. 322, which is supported by Michigan Association of Police Organizations (MAPO) and Karoub Associates, legislative consultants for MAFF, takes affect immediately.
FIREFIGHTERS WORK RIGHTS EXPANDED
Snyder also signed HB 4624, now known as Public Act 323, sponsored by state Rep. Joe Haveman, which gives public fire department employees the right to work on a volunteer, part-time or on-call basis at another fire department as long as the employment does not conflict with their full-time fire fighter position. Public Act 323 adds fire fighting to the list of suitable part-time or volunteer positions allowed for fire fighters within their collective bargaining agreements.
"The raises are on par with what they gave other city workers. The promotional procedure was important because we have a set pattern of how were going to do it. It would take seven or eight years to be eligible for promotion previously. Now they have to be there five years and work at least 2,000 hours in that five-year period," said MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Joe O'Connor. "Captains and Lieutenants were required to attend meetings and they weren't being paid for them. They were receiving stipends and the City argued that was their payment. Now they're receiving their hourly rate of pay for going to these meeting and the stipend stayed the same. That was a significant gain for them. The Employer has agreed to promote two Lieutenants for each one of the stations. They currently don't have that manpower."
Contract Duration: 4-year agreement, ratified Sept. 7, 2014, and effective 6-30-13 to 7-31-17.
Wage Increases: 2% wage increase upon contract ratification.
• $200 one-time stipend effective 9-26-14 paid to all current members as Employer is now paying Employees their earnings one week later instead of paying their wages in the week they earn them.
• $400 stipend to current members (equals 2% pay increase for average paid-on-call) effective 7-1-15.
• 2% wage increase effective 7-1-16.
"The big thing was the stand-by time, the increase in that wage. That went up by almost $3 an hour, but that was to offset the loss of hours they are faced with due to the Affordable Care Act. They increased the pay for everything else with the exception of the EMS runs," said MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Joe O'Connor. "The number of paid holidays was increased by five and it's the day the city recognizes (the holidays) on. If the city celebrates on Friday, they can work the Friday, get the time and a half and stay home with their family on the holiday itself. The grievance procedure was more clearly defined. We established a panel of arbitrators to select from and a procedure to select the arbitrators in lieu of paying AAA."
Contract Duration: 4-year agreement, ratified June 24, 2014, and effective 7-1-13 to 6-30-17.
Wage Increases: Paid-on-call fire fighters when toned out receive:
$26 per hour for Fire Rescue runs, a 4% increase.
$23.50 per hour for EMS runs, a 6% reduction.
$20 per hour for Stand-by-Duty, a 15.6% increase.
$18 per hour for Meetings, a 4% increase.
Tone out runs were previously paid at $25 per hour. To help offset the increases in Stand-by and Meeting pay, the Employer separated the toned out runs into two categories, Fire Rescue (increased by $1 per hour) and EMS (reduced $1.50 per hour). POC are expected to make up the loss of pay for EMS runs through the pay increases in other areas.
• POC Officers monthly stipend was increased by $25 per month:
Captain $275, a 10% increase.
Lieutenant $233, an 11.8% increase.
Sergeant $192, a 15% increase.
• Instructors pay increased to $20 per hour, a 5% increase.
MAFF wins lawsuit filed over failure to arbitrate
Macomb Township officials were ordered to arbitrate three grievances filed by MAFF on behalf of two Macomb Township Fire Fighters in a Circuit Court ruling June 13. The decision was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Employer after MAFF filed a motion for summary disposition in an effort to compel the Employer to arbitrate the matters.
"Judge (Jennifer M.) Faunce ordered Macomb Township to participate in arbitration of three grievances," said MAFF attorney M. Catherine Farrell. "The Employer refused to arbitrate and brought a lawsuit to stop the arbitrations."
On Sept. 5, 2013, MAFF filed grievances and pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) took the grievances through the grievance procedure. The Employer alleged that the Union had not fully complied with Step Three by refusing to meet with the Township Board of Trustees. The language was ambiguous as to whether the Union was required to "meet" with the Township Board of Trustees. Judge Faunce agreed with MAFF that the issue of procedural arbitrability is for the arbitrator to decide, not the Court.
The Judge stated "... the CBA grants an arbitrator the authority to decide whether a misrepresentation or misapplication of a specific article has occurred, and the instant dispute centers on whether one of the parties has misinterpreted or misapplied the requirements under Step Three. This matter must therefore be decided by an arbitrator, rather than the Court."
MAFF representation allows for uniform benefits, wages and more
By Jennifer Foley, MAFF Editor
Chelsea Area Fire Authority voted unanimously to join Michigan Association of Fire Fighters (MAFF) in an April 4 election with 12 members voting Yes for MAFF representation and zero opposing.
"The Authority is made up of different communities and each has different ideas on how things should be covered," said Ron Palmquist, MAFF Labor Relations Specialist for Chelsea Area Fire Authority. "There was too much uncertainty as to how things were going to go with benefits and wages and everything else. Now everyone will know what is what and follow the contract."
The members being represented by MAFF include 10 full-time and five paid-on-call fire fighters employed by the Chelsea Area Fire Department. The Chelsea Area Fire Authority includes the City of Chelsea, Lima Township, Lyndon Township, Sylvan Township and portions of Waterloo and Dexter townships. The City of Chelsea and the townships of Lima, Lyndon and Sylvan are represented by MAFF. Waterloo and Dexter townships pay a fee to participate in the Authority and do not have a vote on the Chelsea Fire Authority Board.
MAFF is the first union to represent the Chelsea Area Fire Authority. A year ago, they held a vote to join International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), a national organization which has state fire fighters associations affiliated with them. However, the fire fighters voted against having IAFF represent them.
"They have been a non-organized group, at-will employees," Palmquist said, adding once an election is held the organization must wait one year before they can seek other representation. "When you get out away from southeast Michigan you find it's a little more common than in the metro area (to be unrepresented). A lot of these departments were originally volunteer groups where they were not paid."
Authority Fire Fighters contacted MAFF after the one-year bar from choosing other representation. "I think they had been talking to some of the surrounding departments," Palmquist said, adding MAFF represents the townships of Sumpter, Van Buren, Northfield, Green Oak and Augusta. Between mutual aid runs and training, he said, fire fighters communicate with each other and find out about union representation.
Now that Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) has given their official approval, Palmquist is busy getting the group ready for their first contract. "I have them working on bylaws for their local group and in the meantime we provide surveys to them to find out what they want to see in the contract," he said. "I sent a letter to the Employer requesting information and we'll put a contract together and start negotiations hopefully in the next few weeks."